A Greece couple heads into this Fourth of July weekend thankful for a lot of things. Tops on that list for Matt Jones is improving health, following weeks spent in a coma after catching coronavirus.
After spending so many years together, couples often come to appreciate the little things.
“You never realize the simple thing that is the human touch, or being able to be with someone,” said Lakiescha Jones. “Until you can't.”
Lakiescha and husband Matt Jones met when they were kids.
“By chance. Walking by,” she said of the change meeting. “Guy meets girl.”
The pair later started dating and have been together for 33 years, including 21 years in marriage. The Jones’ have raised five kids, two of which are now under NFL contracts. Two other boys went to college on football scholarships and their daughter, the youngest, is a junior business and African American studies major at SUNY Brockport.
But for this family, 2020 has been a year of ups and downs. For Matt, it started in late March, with a fever, aches, pains — and a cough.
“It’s kind of scary when people don’t take it seriously,” said Matt.
A test for COVID-19 came back positive. But after a few days, Matt began to feel better. Until he didn’t. By early April, he was in the hospital. Not long after that, he was on a ventilator, in a medically-induced coma.
Matt and Lakiescha Jones are both nurses. She knew the medical team at Unity Hospital was fighting for her husband. They would call frequently. Some days the news was positive and some days it was bad. Despite her faith in the medical team, she felt Matt could use more help.
“I fell down on my knees. I prayed,” she said. “I just had to let God do his work.”
Two weeks in a coma takes away so much. When Matt finally emerged - everything was foggy. He could barely move.
“It was overwhelming,” he said. “It’s hard to explain right now.”
While hospitalized, video chats kept the family together when coronavirus kept them apart. Lakiescha made a poster board full of family photos and positive messages. She had hospital personnel place it in her husband’s room, so Matt could see it when he woke up.
“It helped me so much,” he said. “Just to remember who I was, and what I had to live for.”
Still, Lakiescha says Matt barely knew what was happening when sons Jarron and Jamir — both Notre Dame graduates — both signed NFL contracts in the spring. Progress came, albeit slowly. By the first week of May, Matt was moved to a rehab center at Unity, where he had to learn how to sit, stand and walk — all over again.
“I thank them,” he said of their physical therapy staff. “I thank them for everything they did.”
“You weren’t thankful that first day,” Lakiescha laughed.
On May 20, persistence and faith paid off. Matt finally came home. A few weeks ago, friends, family, and coworkers celebrated with a drive-by parade — a sure sign of the times.
“I'm willing to tell anybody that'll listen that, hey, this COVID is real,” said Matt. “You have to take precautions.”
“It's the new way of life,” added Lakiescha. “I mean yes, we don't want to see our rights violated, but you want to live to tell about it.”
The hardest times help build the strongest bond.
“I just appreciate that I have my right mind and I have good family, good friends,” said Matt Jones. “I’m blessed. I’m blessed.”